Sunday, 23 December 2007

Indonesia: Tree planting mandatory, cutting prohibited in RI action plan

Personal note: As you might guess, there is a catch to this government statement. I have highlighted it below.

Indonesia: Tree planting mandatory, cutting prohibited in RI action plan

The government has released a report on a plan of action covering the mitigation and adaptation efforts for climate change. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially launched the report during the recent climate conference in Bali.

The plan of action on mitigation and adaptation covers the forestry, energy, agriculture, water resources, infrastructure and health sectors. Below is the first article focusing on the forestry sector.

Source: Copyright 2007, Jakarta PostDate: December 22, 2007 Byline: Adianto P. Simamora
The Forestry Ministry wants the government to issue a policy making it mandatory for each Indonesian citizen to plant a tree every year to store more carbon.

In its action plan, the ministry said anyone who wished to cut down a tree with a diameter of more than 10 centimeters had to secure a permit issued by the government. "And anyone who fells a tree has to plant two more trees," the action plan stated.

The director general of the forestry research and development agency, Wahjudi Wardojo, said planting trees was one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change. "We hope local administrations set a rule requiring local citizens to plant more trees," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday. The ministry has set five targets for its mitigation action plan until 2009.

The targets are; to combat illegal logging, rehabilitate forest land and conservation areas, restructure the forestry sector especially for industrial aims, empower local communities living near forests and improve institutions monitoring forests.

The action plan states the ministry will rehabilitate 11 million hectares of damaged forests until 2009, 4,8 million hectares until 2012 and 16 million hectares for 2025. "The remaining will be rehabilitated until 2050," it says. The ministry also aims to reduce the deforestation rate. "We have targeted to reduce deforestation by 23.63 million hectares until 2009, 6.15 million hectares until 2012 and 10 million hectares until 2025," the action plan stated.

The ministry has targeted to reduce forest fires by 50 percent by 2009 and 75 percent by 2012. Wahjudi said in order to meet the targets, the ministry needed a national and international funding mechanism. "Without financial support from the international community, it will be difficult to reach the target," he said.

The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is an international binding treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions to combat global warming. The protocol allows developing countries to host afforestation and reforestation projects to reap cash under the Clean Development Mechanism. The Bali climate conference agreed to adopt the reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) mechanism, which is aimed at providing financial incentives for protecting forests.

Climate experts have long admitted the importance of trees in storing carbon dioxide (CO2), the main contributor to global warming, from being released into air. The United Nations' report on climate change said deforestation contributed to around 20 percent of global emissions in the 1990s.

The report said global forests covered 4 billion hectares, or around 30 percent of the Earth's surface in 2005; containing about 638 gigatons of carbon. Indonesia -- the world's biggest forest country after Brazil and the Republic of Congo -- has 120.35 million hectares of forest. The ministry predicted the country's forests could stock up to 115 gigatons of carbon in 2005.

However, due to rampant illegal logging and land conversion, the country's forests have released a significant amount of carbon into the air. The ministry estimated that with a forest degradation level of 53.9 million in 2005, the forests 'suffered a loss' of up to 2.1 gigatons of carbon stocks.

The ministry said rampant degradation was mainly due to the creation of new regions, agricultural areas, plantations, illegal logging and forest fires. Wetlands International, an international environmental NGO, has listed Indonesia as the world's third-largest carbon emitter, due to a high level of forest degradation and the large number of forest fires in the country last year.

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